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Planet Earth would BE a far better place to dance if more DJs were like Tim Sweeney. Bands such as Escort would rule the dance floor, as club-goers everywhere demanded "All That She Is" in place of, well, any other track I can think of. But seriously, Sweeney rules: those in the know have known that for a few years now, citing the New Yorker's legendary long-running radio show/website/Podcast, Beats in Space. Each week, Sweeney brings together guest DJs from around the globe to create mixes that go from Glass Candy to the Equals and from Can to Dondolo and beyond. Beats in Spaceextends the possibilities of what is possible within the DJ sphere, and it is this indiscriminate love for music that endears Sweeney to listeners. Soon to be embarking on a West Coast tour, Sweeney's first stop will be at the Avalon Bar in Costa Mesa on Feb. 21. I spoke with the man recently about music, touring and what the near future holds for him.
How were you exposed to music when you were younger?
I was exposed to a lot of electronic music through my brother. He was the one going to the record store, and I would just practice with his records. Then he started to take me along to the record store and I was able to find some of my own things.
How about now?
Now, I'm exposed to new music through so many different channels. I've had mentors like Steinski [blogger/DJ/record collector Steven Stein] and the [New York-based record label/collective] DFA who have really opened me up to all kinds of music; working at a radio station, you're always in contact with new (and old) music, and also my old job at Rockstar Games as soundtrack supervisor allowed me to go out and buy tons and tons of music.
There are so many ways of finding out about music now. The best is always through friends, but I also go to record stores each week and I go online and listen to music on mp3 blogs and at online record stores. If there's some group or genre that I really get into I always try and research about it. That usually adds up to a whole list of other groups to go out and find.
I think the music I'm most excited about right now is from this new group that's going to be coming out on DFA called Hercules and Love Affair. It's this guy named Andrew Butler who's making great dance music. A bunch of the tracks feature vocals from Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons). Those tracks sound like a cross between Arthur Russell, Kevin Saunderson's Inner City, and and some old Chicago house but with a 2007 feel. I can't wait for this stuff to come out.
How do you like touring? Do you find the crowd's response to be different in different areas? Like, would Cabaret Voltaire go over well in one city and not in another?
I love touring. It can be stressful with little sleep, lots of flying and not getting to see much except for the plane, car, hotel and club, but I still love it. Getting to go to different cities to play music for people is amazing. The crowd's response is definitely different when you go to a new city. Even between New York and Philadelphia, songs that might work in New York don't always work in Philly and vice versa. I think it has to do a lot with the local DJs that are in that city and what people are used to listening to.
What's next for you after this tour? Any recordings coming out?
I'm putting out a 12" in June with Tim Goldsworthy from DFA as TnT. It's coming out on this Japanese label called Mule Musiq and it's two edits/remixes we did. We're also working on some original music together as well. So hopefully we'll be able to put that out soon. I want to do another mix CD this year too, so that will be probably by with my friends at [the record label] RVNG.
TIM SWEENEY SPINS AT AVALON BAR, 820 W. 19TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 515-4650. WED., 10 P.M. CALL FOR COVER. 21+. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SWEENEY'S PERFORMANCE, CHECK www.fistfull.net; TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BEATS IN SPACE, VISIT WWW.BEATSINSPACE.NET.